Atlanta, GA – A federal grand jury indicted an anti-police Atlanta city councilman on Thursday for fraud dating back to 2012.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown stood accused of lying about his income on loan and credit card applications for personal purchases including fancy cars, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Prosecutors said Brown attempted “to defraud several financial institutions by taking out loans and making credit card purchases – and then falsely claiming that he was the victim of identity theft and was not responsible for the charges or repaying the loans.”
The indictment said Brown falsified his income to get loans to purchase both a Mercedes Benz C300 and a Range Rover, WXIA reported.
The alleged crimes for which the councilman was indicted happened long before he was elected to office, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Brown took office after he won a special election to fill City Councilman Ivory Lee Young’s seat after he died in 2019.
In doing so, he became the first openly gay African American on the Atlanta City Council, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said Brown opened multiple credit cards in 2012 with which he made thousands of dollars in purchases.
Pak said Brown also fraudulently obtained $60,000 in car loans to purchase luxury vehicles, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The indictment alleged that Brown provided false information regarding his income when applying for a loan through Signature Bank in August of 2017.
He was accused of claiming to earn $325,000 a year and said he had $200,000 additional in cash and assets, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Pak said that Brown knew the information in the loan application was false because he had submitted another application to a different lender in July of 2017 that said he earned $125,000 a year.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also said that Brown lied about being a victim of identity theft at one point to get out of paying his debts after he was caught.
The councilman has been vocal during the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in custody in May, and then the death of Rayshard Brooks after he fired a Taser at an Atlanta police officer at a Wendy’s in June, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
He has frequently clashed with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in public.
Brown recently proposed a measure to ban Atlanta police from using less-lethal crowd control agents such as tear gas and rubber bullets, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The councilman referred to the widely-accepted tactical supplies as “riot agents.”
Prosecutors charged Brown on July 30 with wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, and making false statements on a bank loan application, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The council said he had no plans to resign his seat and that he planned to fight the charges.
Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore issued a statement after the indictment was announced, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“As the public has been made aware, Council member Antonio Brown has recently been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on multiple charges unrelated to his service on the Atlanta City Council,” Moore wrote.
“At this time, no vacancy on Council exists as a result of this occurrence. A vacancy would only exist in the event of a resignation, conviction, or state-level suspension,” she explained, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Per the U.S. Attorney’s Office (Northern District of Georgia), please be reminded that the indictment only contains charges and the defendant is presumed innocent until otherwise proven at trial. This is a personal matter to be addressed by Mr. Brown as he undergoes due process of the law,” the city council president added.